Next Supreme Court Justice to Solidify Right Wing, Neoliberal Control - by Stephen Lendman
On April 9, Justice John Paul Stevens delivered a letter to President Obama stating:
"Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next Term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice."
NBC anchor Brian Williams called him a "liberal lion," a "lawyer's lawyer." UPI's Michael Kirkland said he led the Court's "four-member liberal bloc." AP's Mark Sherman and Calvin Woodward said he "carved a liberal legacy on the high court." Clinton's acting Solicitor General, Walter Dellinger, called him "the Chief Justice of the Liberal Supreme Court." Writing in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin said he was a "liberal leader (who's) views suggest a sensibility more than a philosophy."
Others remember him both ways:
-- voting to reinstate the death penalty in 1976 and against "affirmative" preferences in the 1978 Bakke case; and
-- for his scathing 2000 Bush v. Gore dissent, support for reproductive rights, and the separation of church and state, among his other liberal and conservative decisions.
In a 2007 interview, Stevens told journalist Jeffrey Rosen he hasn't changed much since his 1975 appointment, saying:
"I don't think of myself as a liberal at all. I think as part of my general politics, I'm pretty darn conservative." His judicial hero is Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Republican centrist and fellow "judicial conservative."
Potential Successor Candidates
Some observers believe Solicitor General Elena Kagan is the leading contender. Educated at Harvard Law School, she then clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, followed by several years in private practice after which she taught law at the University of Chicago. In 1995, she became Clinton's associate counsel, then deputy assistant for domestic policy and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. Clinton nominated her to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but no confirmation hearing followed. In 1999, she taught at Harvard Law School, then, in 2003, university President Larry Summers appointed her dean, a position she held until confirmed Solicitor General in 2009.
As the president's chief lawyer before the High Court, she's well known as the "Tenth Justice." In 2009, she was a finalist to replace Justice David Souter, leading some to believe she's top choice now to succeed Stevens.
On April 12, University of Illinois Law Professor Francis Boyle said the following:
"As dean of the Harvard Law School, Kagan hired Bush's outgoing director of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, as a law professor. Goldsmith is regarded by myself and many others in the field as a war criminal. He wrote some of the memos that attempted to make violations of the Geneva Conventions appear legal. Kagan actually bragged about 'how proud' she was to have hired Goldsmith after one of his criminal Department of Justice memoranda was written up in the Washington Post."
Boyle added more:
-- her endorsement of Bush's "bogus category 'enemy combatant,' whose implementation has been a war crime in its own right;"